With the 2014 Winter Olympics steadily approaching, everyone is on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the new roster of athletes, sports and potential glory. Sure, we’re all familiar with skiing, snowboarding and the other regulars, but what about that strange sport known as Luge? And what the heck is Bandy? (It sounds like anything but a sport.) Read on to learn more about some of the weirder sports that will be broadcast to the entire world in a matter of weeks.
Bandy – Love hockey and soccer? Why not put them together? The result is bandy, a sport that has two teams of 11 players who play in a soccer field-sized rink. It’s field hockey with ice skates and a ball instead of a puck but with soccer rules. Confused much? Don’t worry, the feeling is mutual.
Biathlon – This intense activity requires competitors to engage in a cross-country race while skiing and shooting. Basically you’re on the move, then you have to stop and take five shots at a target, ski some more, stop and shoot, and keep this up until you’ve completed the required amount of shots and loops. The person with the lowest combined time to do all of the above takes home the gold.
Curling – Shuffle board lovers, unite. Sort of. Each team has a set of large stones and contestants take turns sliding the stones down the ice towards a target. As the stone moves towards its target, team members known as “sweepers” proceed to sweep the ice with brooms in order to manage the course of the stone. You gain a point for every stone you get closer to the target than the other team’s best effort. Sounds more like competitive housecleaning to us. We’re still trying to figure out the excitement factor with this one.
Luge – This involves lying down on your back and hurling yourself down an icy mountain in a narrow sled at an incredibly fast speed (faster than the bobsled). Think water slides at Raging Waters minus the swimsuits and the safety factor. This is a bona fide Olympic event that also offers a pairs division where your partner lies directly on top of you. They are also introducing a team relay event for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And in case you were wondering, people have died doing this.
Skeleton – This was excluded from the Olympics until 2002 when it was brought back. It’s kind of like doing the luge in reverse: you ride stomach-down on a skinny sled and go headfirst down an ice track, sans brakes. Perfect for those with an adrenaline-filled death wish.